César Azpilicueta, right back turned left back turned center back, became just the fourth player in Premier League history this season to play every single minute of the league campaign. He joins Gary Pallister (92-93), John Terry (14-15), and Wes Morgan (15-16) in accomplishing this remarkable feat.
"Obviously it’s not easy to play every minute and win the league. It’s a big achievement. I’ve tried to do my best to get in the team but I have to be thankful to the manager, he’s trusted me a lot."
"I was always in the team and the only way I could repay his confidence was by working hard which is what I’ve tried to do since pre-season. In the end we got a big reward but we want a bigger one next Saturday."
The Conte effect has exceeded everyone’s expectations, and it could get even better on Saturday. Having already set a new Premier Leaguer record with 30 wins and notched the second most points ever in a season with 93, a win against Arsenal would complete just the second Double in club history.
"From the beginning he was very clear about what he wanted to achieve. His winning mentality was amazing since the first day. He didn’t just want to come here and do better than last season, he wanted to achieve big goals."
"We worked for that and we got our rewards, we’re in the final of the FA Cup and we have a chance to win the Double."
-César Azpilicueta; source: Chelsea FC
In spite of the media’s fawning over Tottenahm “we made a close race again” Spurs, Chelsea have gotten plenty of plaudits as well, both on a team level and as individuals. N’Golo Kanté for example is cleaning up all the Player of the Year awards, usually with Eden Hazard trailing just behind in second place. Azpilicueta himself has been a bit more underrated, though if the recent Barcelona rumors are any indication, not everyone’s turning a disinterested eye in his direction. Fortunately, Dave is all Chelsea, so he’s simply looking at these stories as a measure of his own success.
"It's flattering that a club like Barcelona can be interested in you. Last year, after a bad season on a collective level, we did not have those types of rumours. However, this season we have been crowned Champions and this type of story indicates that we have done well."
"Interest from teams of this level is very positive but I am very happy here. I feel very valued by the club and I do not think of anything else."
-César Azpilicueta; source: MARCA via ESPN FC
In his five years at Chelsea, Azpi’s already built a remarkable legacy not only with his trophy record, but for his endless effort, commitment, and leadership. At 27 going 28 years of age, Azpi is in his prime and is surely captain in waiting behind Gary Cahill. Of all the first-team regulars, Azpilicueta, seems the least likely to ever leave (fingers crossed).